Chinese artist Wang Guangyi is one of the most recognisable figures in the contemporary art arena and ranks within the top 100 artists alive in terms of auction revenue, according to data from Artnet Analytics. For the first time, he is headed to Dubai with his latest exhibition Great Criticism, which is on display from Thursday November 12 to Monday 30 at Opera Gallery in DIFC.
Born in Harbin, China in 1957, the Beijing resident was affected by both Chinese and Western influences, which can be seen in his thought-provoking works. Here’s an exclusive sneak peek at four pieces in the show, critiqued by Opera Gallery director Sylvain P. Gaillard.
1. The concept and theme
With his biting blend of satire and kitsch, Wang Guangyi’s juxtaposition of radical images with consumer logos is an unmistakable comment on the narratives of economic, social and political policies. Coupling the aesthetics of Chinese propaganda with prevalent status symbols and commercial brands in the West, Guangyi’s work becomes an ideological blur of criticism on a global scale – all of us implicated, all of us victims.
2. Exhibiting in Dubai
The emirate is known for its luxurious lifestyle and consumerist drive – themes that Guangyi addresses through a satirical lens. He urges the viewer to ask themselves about the value of the object, the importance of the logo and the implications of consumerism.
3. Influences on his works
These images recall the propaganda of Guangyi’s past. This was the artist’s experience of capitalism and war; the irony of materialism in the wake of violence. His juxtaposition of logos onto posters may seem removed, but in reality they are an astute observation of the way in which we are all imprisoned by the consumerist propaganda that they represent.
4. The message
In terms of appeal, the genius of Guangyi’s work draws from the Kantian notion of thing-in-itself. That is, the obvious image as it appears to the observer as opposed to the hidden meaning of what we see. The artist’s entire oeuvre plays with this idea. There is an obviousness to the images that mask a deep, underlying critique that can be interpreted differently by each viewer.